Given the awards and acclaim heaped on Steve James The Interrupters, Vagabond Audio’s Drew Weir didn’t find it too surprising when the documentary was nominated for a 2013 Motion Picture Sound Editors’ (MPSE) Golden Reel Award – considered “the Oscars for audio.”
What Weir and partner/executive producer Rise Sanders did find “very rewarding” was the films they are competing against for Best Sound Editing: Long Form Documentary in Television: Sean Penn-produced film Love Hate Love for The Oprah Winfrey Network, and HBO’s The Rolling Stones: Crossfire Hurricane.
The 2011 Kartemquin-produced doc about Chicago “violence interrupters” aired on PBS’ Frontline series on Valentine’s Day, 2012 and nominations for the year’s best work in film and television sound were officially announced Friday, Jan. 18.
Director James and supervising editor/re-recording mixer Weir worked closely together to bring out emotion through sound in the feature length doc.
“Steve wanted to bring out emotion through sound,” says Weir. “In a documentary you don’t get to do that with heavy effects, so it’s about the dialog and production audio. There was a lot of cleanup, sound design, sweetening and foley that went into giving the cinema vérité film the quality sound you get in narrative films.”
Second James doc for Vagabond
In one situation, a sudden act of violence erupted outside of one of the Cease Fire centers and a shooter rushed out to capture it. “The camera was 20-feet away from the combatants and camera mike wasn’t recording crisp sound. We added to that in a way that puts you closer to the action, the way you’d expect to hear it in the film,” Sanders says.
Weir first worked for James in 2010 when James, who usually takes his audio post to Skywalker Sound in Northern California, needed some tweaks on his doc, No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson, a Kartemquin film for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series.
A mutual friend recommended Weir. “He liked us well enough to return to work with us on The Interrupters,” Weir says.
Weir and Sanders are looking forward to attending the 60th MPSE Golden Reel Awards on Feb. 17, 2013 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in L.A. It won’t be their first award – they have three Tellys, a Midwest Emmy certificate and a Silver Hugo — but it certainly will be the most prestigious, short of the Motion Picture Academy’s golden Oscar.